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THE PERMANENT INDIAN FRONTIER: 

1 THE REASON FOR THE CONSTRUCTION AND ABANDONMENT OF 
if FORT SCOTT. KANSAS. 

DURING THE DRAGOON ERA ^« 




FEB 25 1388 



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BY 



EARL ARTHUR SHOEMAKER 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/permanentindianfOOshoe 



THE PERMANENT INDIAN FRONTIER: 



THE REASON FOR THE CONSTRUCTION AND ABANDONMENT OF 

FORT SCOTT. KANSAS. 
DURING THE DRAGOON ERA 



A SPECIAL HISTORY STUDY 

BY 

EARL ARTHUR SHOEMAKER 
HISTORIAN 



NATIONAL PARK SERVICE 
1980 



THE PERMANENT INDIAN FRONTIER: 

THE REASON FOR THE CONSTRUCTION AND ABANDONMENT OF 
FORT SCOTT, KANSAS, 
DURING THE DRAGOON ERA 



A Special History Study- 
by 
Earl Arthur Shoemaker 
Historian 



Recommended : 




ZE& 



Superintendent, Fort Scott NHS 



date 



Approved : 




Regional Director, Midwest Region 




Preface 

The early history of Fort Scott, Kansas (1842-1853) focuses 
entirely on the post's role in maintaining the permanent Indian 
frontier. This policy of establishing a boundary between the Indians 
and white settlers and building forts to keep the two cultures 
separate was officially adopted with the passage of the Removal Act 
of 1830. Under the authority of this legislation, the United States 
government forced the movement of most eastern Indians to the area of 
present-day Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Fort Scott serves as a 
point of study for this Indian policy because, unlike other forts on 
the frontier, Fort Scott was built and maintained solely as an 
installation to implement the concept of the permanent Indian 
country. When Indian policy changed to reflect new concerns over 
westward expansion, the Army abandoned Fort Scott. 

A brief history of colonial notions of land ownership and the 
rights of Indians leads to the Indian removal of the nineteenth 
century. Removal to the trans-Mississippi West, however, did not 
mean a permanent boundary until Congress passed the Removal Bill in 
1830. Despite opposition to it, the legislation was enacted because 
of conflicts between the Indians and state governments, primarily the 
government of Georgia. 

Once the federal government isolated the tribes, the task of 
"civilizing" them began. This meant converting them to agriculture 
and Christianity, and was attempted by missionaries without much 
success. Contact between the Indians and their white neighbors to 
the east could not be curtailed and the encroachment of settlers upon 
the Indian lands combined with the illegal whiskey trade to defeat 
the efforts of the missionaries. 

Military plans to enforce the separation of the Indians and the 
whites centered on a chain of forts along a military road which ran 
the length of the frontier. The locations and numbers of these 
forts, and the types of troops available to occupy them, determined 
the limited success and ultimate failure of the permanent Indian 
frontier. The troops of Fort Scott exemplify the actions and 
problems associated with this frontier. 

Following the Mexican-American War in the late 1840s, the 
increase in the territory of the United States forced a reassessment 
of Indian policy. The emigrant Indians were no longer on the western 
edge of the nation, but rather in the center of it. Through their 
lands lay the routes to the new western territories. The desire for 
a corridor through the tribal lands in addition to the realization 
that the Indians were not adapting to new ways of life led to another 
series of removals and further concentration in present-day Oklahoma. 



The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 effectively ended 
the permanent Indian frontier. The policy of segregating the 
cultures of the frontier, white and red, was an experiment that 
failed because of changing priorities among government officials. 
Fort Scott, built as a permanent post, was actually obsolescent even 
when just completed. 



11 



Table of Contents 

List of Illustrations iv 

Acknowledgments v 

Introduction 1 

The Origins of the Permanent Indian Frontier 6 

Civilizing the Indians 23 

Enforcing the Frontier 34 

The Role of Fort Scott 49 

The End of the Experiment 64 

Conclusions 79 

Appendix 85 

A Note on Sources 87 

Bibliography 89 



in 



List of Illustrations 

Early Indian Tribes in Kansas 7 

Indian Reservations in Kansas, 1846 8 

Line of the Western Military Frontier, June 1845 35 

Plan of Fort Scott 50 

Fort Scott Today 51 

Trails through Pre-Territorial Kansas 65 



IV 



Acknowledgments 

I would like to thank Sheridan Steele and Arnold Schofield at 
Fort Scott National Historic Site for their suggestion of this topic 




comments, and moral support during the summer that this project 
initially took form. Professors Robin Higham and Burton Kaufman, 
along with my major advisor Professor Homer Socolofsky, all aided me 
greatly with editorial comments on an early draft of this work and 
with their suggestions of additonal sources of information. 

The staffs and facilities at Farrell Library at Kansas 
State University, University of Nebraska-Omaha Library, and the 
Kansas State Historical Society all deserve recognition. Without 
them, this work could not have been completed. 

Financial support came from the National Park Service where 
I was employed as a historian for one summer and Kansas State 
University History Department which employed me as a graduate 
teaching assistant. I would also like to thank the Kansas State 
University Foundation for the Ina Mueller Scholarship which has paid 
for additional research trips and preparation costs. 

A note of thanks is extended to my typist, Nedra Sylvis, 
for her editorial advice and for her completion of draft copies in 
record 
t ime . 

Finally, I wish to thank my wife, Kathy, and children, 
Leslie, Nathan, and Kristina, for their patience with me during so 
many years of school. 



Introduction 

From 1830 to 1854, the Indian policy of the United States called 
for the establishment of a permanent Indian frontier west of the 
organized states and territories. The Proclamation Line of 1763 set 
a precedent for this when King George III attempted to keep the 
American colonists east of the Appalachian Mountains. The United 
States Army occupied many forts along the frontier line, among them 
Fort Scott in present-day southeastern Kansas. Some of the posts, 
such as Fort Snelling in the north and Fort Leavenworth, were built 
prior to the establishment of the Indian frontier, but the army 
constructed Fort Scott solely to maintain the white-red boundary. 

The Removal Act of 1830 embodied the concept of the 
permanent Indian frontier. It provided for an exchange of Indian 
lands east of the Mississippi River, where the white population was 
increasing rapidly, for land west of the Mississippi. The United 
States government did not expect these land exchanges to be 
accomplished in a short time. In 1830, the Rocky Mountains formed 
the western boundary of undisputed United States territory; it was 
into this trans-Mississippi West that the Indians were moved. In 
1834 Congress passed the Intercourse Act which increased the 
penalties for those who would violate the integrity of the permanent 
Indian frontier or attempt to sell whiskey or hunt on Indian lands. 
The 1830s saw the policy of Indian removal progress toward a true 
permanent Indian frontier, beyond which no white settlement could 



exist under the law. Despite legislation from Washington, D.C., 
however, the Indian country and frontier never achieved the 
permanence envisioned for them. 

The goal of a permanent Indian frontier held its greatest 
popularity in the years immediately prior to the Mexican-American 
war. By about 1840, most of the tribes that had agreed to move had 
indeed done so, and the expansionists' dream of a nation stretching 
from coast to coast had not yet captured the imagination of 
officials. Even at that point, though, pioneers filtered into the 
Indian lands, forcing the government to negotiate new treaties with 
the tribes for more land cessions. White settlement in Missouri and 
then Arkansas and Iowa pushed the remaining Indians out of those 
areas . 

Indian removal beyond the Mississippi stemmed from more 
than the white man's desire for more farmland. if land-hunger had 
been the only factor, there would have been no efforts to make the 
frontier permanent. Rather, the Indian frontier was an attempt by 
officials to preserve the Indians as a race working with the desires 
of the frontiersmen for cheap land. Initially, tribes moved west 
seeking game to support their traditional way of life which had been 
severely altered by the influx of settlers. As time progressed, 
however, concerned whites began to feel genuine fear for the survival 
of the Indians because of the loss of their ancestral lands and their 
weakness for alcohol. Indian numbers were decreasing and tribal 



members were not being absorbed by the white population. The only 
way for the Native Americans to survive was adaptation to the white 
man's ways — specifically, to change from predominantly hunting and 
gathering societies to societies based on agriculture. This great 
change, they felt, could be accomplished only if the Indians were 
isolated from the negative influences of white culture, such as 
alcohol. 

The projected transition for the Indians required time, 
space, and dedicated men. Missionaries and Indian agents working 
beyond the permanent Indian frontier were to accomplish the feat of 
civilizing the Indians. Men such as Jotham Meeker and Isaac McCoy 
struggled to bring Christianity to the Indians while training them 
for a new way of life. They foundly believed that once the Indians 
learned how to manage farms and desired to follow the paths of 
agriculture and Christianity to civilization, the government would be 
able to cease its paternal care of the tribes. 

Agents and sub-agents of the Office of Indian Affairs also 
had great responsibilities and, as a rule, were sincere in their 
dealings with the various Indian bands. They negotiated treaties, 
mediated conflicts between tribes, and disbursed the annuities paid 
to the Indians. Their letters and reports from the period express 
extreme frustration over their inability to effectively curtail the 
whiskey trade . 



Even as the government established the frontier and 
attempted to make the boundaries clear, changes occurred which 
drastically altered Indian policy. The concept of the permanent 
Indian frontier disappeared between 1848 and 1854, but the reasons 
for its demise appeared long before then. 

Ever greater numbers of settlers moved west along the 
trails in what became Kansas and Nebraska during the 1830s and 1840s. 
The Santa Fe Trail, in use since 1821, carried traders between the 
western United States and Mexico regularly until the railroads 
spanned this distance. This trade grew steadily until the war with 
Mexico when the United States acquired what is today the states of 
California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. As United States 
territory, the route picked up even more traffic which further 
increased with the California gold rush of 1849. The Oregon Trail 
also led many travelers west, both to Oregon and later California. 
Though the number of pioneers remained relatively small until the 
United States and Britain settled their dispute over the control of 
Oregon in 1846, traffic increased steadily throughout the early 
1840s. As the number of emigrants increased, so did their cries for 
protection against marauding Indians. More troops moved west to 
protect the wagon trains, encouraging more pioneers to go to the 
Pacific coast and take advantage of the protection afforded. This 
snowball effect contributed to plans to open a broad transportation 
corridor and thus clear the central section of the Indian country of 
Native Americans. 



The revised Indian policy of the early 1850s--concentration 
in small reservations — paved the way for white settlement in the 
present states of Kansas and Nebraska. Though first mentioned by 
officials in the early 1840s, concentration of the Indians was not 
executed for about ten years. It crowded the Indians onto 
reservations much smaller than they had originally been given, into 
spaces that offered them no choice in their way of life. The land 
could only support them through farming, which, it was argued, was 
all in the best interests of the Indians themselves. This change in 
policy was embodied in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 which gave 
territorial status to the central section of the Indian country. 

Fort Scott in southeastern Kansas epitomizes the actions 
and forces on the Indian frontier in the 1840s. The government 
authorized its construction in 1842 just when the bulk of the tribes 
were settled where they were supposed to stay indefinitely. Though 
other posts guarded the Indian country, they were not necessarily 
built as permanent installations expressly to maintain the frontier. 
The army built Fort Scott between Forts Gibson and Leavenworth in 
order to fill the defensive gap and abandoned the post only when it 
became apparent that Kansas would be incorporated as a territory of 
the United States and the Indians of the area moved to new locations. 
The fate of Fort Scott from 1842 to 1853 depended on the policy of 
maintaining the permanent Indian frontier. 



CHAPTER ONE 



THE ORIGINS OF THE PERMANENT INDIAN FRONTIER 




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Chapter One 
The Origins of the Permanent Indian Frontier 

The policy of Indian removal had its roots in the European 
theories of Indian land ownership and occupation developed during the 
early explorations of the New World. The European concept centered 
on the right of preemption which gave the first white settlers the 
opportunity to acquire and occupy Indian lands. This understanding 
among the colonial powers developed over a long period and did not 
take into consideration Indian thought on the subject. Originally, 
clear title to the land became official only after the natives "sold" 
it or after their conquest, but eventually mere claims of absolute 
sovereignty by the imperialist nations sufficed. ■*- If Indians 
contested land ownership by force, they lost to the superior 
firepower of the colonists. 

The original British-American colonies, and later the 
United States, inherited or assumed the rights of the mother country. 
The Indians owned the land, but if they should become extinct, 
voluntarily leave or sell the land, only the United States could 
claim ownership. ^ Land speculators and frontier settlers supported 
these theories because they resulted in the availability of more land 
at better prices. 



The philosophy of land ownership had evolved by 1830 as the 
nation grew in population and power. Not only could Indians 
voluntarily give up their land, but land could also be denied to them 
because the tribes claimed far more than those in control of the 
nation judged that they needed. The prevailing white bias favored 
agriculture over hunting, and so, a tribe's hunting lands could be 
broken up into parcels of farm land. Indians would be paid for their 
land, including compensation for any improvements, and thus everyone 
was to be satisfied. The alternative to this involved taking the 
desired territory "by the sword. "3 This change in the appropriation 
of tribal lands resulted from the compromise between the desire for 
justice and the land-hunger of the frontier settlers. 

Attempts were made to erect a large-scale boundary between 
white settlement and Indian country, but all divisions remained 
temporary. The governor of Pennsylvania concluded a treaty in 1758 
which not only solidified a white-red border; he even returned lands 
that had been purchased from the Indians four years earlier. This 
set a precedent for the Proclamation of 1763, when British King 
George III decreed that the region beyond the Appalachians belonged 
to and could only be occupied by Indians. Neither of these attempts 
at segregation enjoyed much success. 

Thomas Jefferson is generally credited with developing the 
concept of Indian removal as distinct from an Indian country in situ. 
The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 gave the United States more land than 

10 



President Jefferson envisioned needing for many years, so he 
concluded that the new land would be an ideal place in which to place 
the Indians. Immediate removal and that which followed later 
resulted in an exchange of land east of the Mississippi River for 
generous tracts west of the Mississippi; it was not simply a matter 
of taking the land away from the Indians. 

The policy of Indian removal progressed slowly at first, 
but accelerated under subsequent administrations. As early as 1793, 
some members of the Delaware and Shawnee tribes had moved into 
Spain's Louisiana territory. The Spaniards readily accepted them to 
create a buffer zone between Spanish settlements and the United 
States. 5 Some Cherokees went west to hunt before the War of 1812, 
and by 1816 there were about 2,000 of the tribe living in what is now 
Arkansas. Not until 1817, though, did the United States negotiate a 
formal exchange of lands with the Cherokee Indians. *> The treaty did 
not dispose of all Cherokee lands in the southeastern United States 
where problems between the Cherokees and state governments continued. 

In the mid-1820s, changing circumstances lent urgency to 
Indian removal. The plantation system spread through the Gulf plains 
during this period, creating a demand for the land on which the 
southern tribes resided. In addition, white settlers in the Old 
Northwest crowding the Indians, prompted Secretary of War John C. 
Calhoun in January 1825, to urge the removal of virtually all Indians 
living east of the Mississippi. Calhoun recommended that two regions 

11 



be set aside for the Indians. The northern tribes, a smaller group, 
were to be moved to the present state of Wisconsin, while the 
southern tribes would go west of Missouri and Arkansas Territory. ^ 
Many of those removed to the area of Wisconsin eventually went to the 
Kansas and Nebraska region under an extension of the removal policy. 

In order to make room for the emigrating Indians in the 
West, the United States concluded treaties with the native Kansas and 
Osage tribes. General William Clark, Superintendent of Indian 
Affairs at St. Louis, negotiated these treaties, promising the 
protection of the United States from their traditional enemies. The 
Plains tribes gave up claims to land in what is today Missouri, 
Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, but still retained large tracts in 
Kansas. 8 The lands given up by the Kansas and Osages opened up a 
tremendous amount of territory onto which the eastern Indians would 
be placed . 

The process of Indian removal continued about the same pace 
until 182 9 when Andrew Jackson took office as President of the United 
States. In recent years, the popular conception of Andrew Jackson as 
the Indian-hating president has been revised. ^ Though Jackson had 
frequent contacts with Indians during his career as a military 
leader, not all of the contacts came on the battlefield. He gladly 
used Indians as allies and "personally liked and respected individual 
Indian chiefs. "10 His main concern was for the security of the 
United States. In order to assure that security and the Indians' 

12 



survival, he felt that the Native Americans had to adopt the ways of 
white civilization.^--'- 

By the time of the Jackson administration, major 
difficulties had arisen between the Cherokee Nation and the State of 
Georgia. These differences predated Jackson's presidency, but it was 
Andrew Jackson who ultimately settled them. He believed that the 
Indian nations were not absolutely sovereign, even on the lands 
guaranteed them by treaty. Congressional or state actions applied to 
all residents of the United States, regardless of their racial 
origin. Earlier interaction, according to Jackson, had been based on 
the weakness of the United States and its desire to cease or prevent 
hostilities at any cost. That position of weakness no longer existed 
for the country by 1829. 12 

The Cherokee Nation had embraced "civilization" as much as 
any tribe in the United States. The Cherokees had developed an 
agricultural economy, as opposed to the hunting culture of most other 
tribes, and their politicians had enacted laws based on those of 
white society. They clung to their ancestral lands, and though some 
Cherokees had emigrated westward, the great majority of the tribe 
preferred to remain in the southeast. 13 

Most Cherokees lived in the State of Georgia, and Georgia 
was anxious to be rid of them. An 1802 agreement between Georgia and 
the United States stipulated that the Federal government would 

13 



peacefully remove the Cherokees as soon as possible. However, the 
Cherokees did not wish to move and white Georgians became impatient. 
The discovery of gold on Cherokee land added to the Georgians' 
anxiousness. Tn 1827, relations between the Cherokees and the whites 
grew worse after the tribe adopted a constitution asserting complete 
sovereignty within the Cherokee lands. In December 1828, the Georgia 
state legislature passed a bill which extended Georgia laws to cover 
all Indian residents of the state. Among these laws was one which 
prohibited Indians in any trial involving a white man, an indication 
of how the citizens of the state treated Indians. Into this struggle 
stepped Andrew Jackson. He would not aid the Cherokees, supporting 
the doctrine of states' rights, and presented as alternatives to the 
Indians the options of staying in Georgia and submitting to harsh 
state legislation or moving west where they would have to deal only 
with the Federal government.^ Jackson used fear, which he 
considered an excellent weapon against the Indians to get them to 
move. I 5 Though it would be years before the Cherokee removal was 
finished, they had lost their legal struggle to remain in their 
tribal homeland and eventually migrated west along the "Trail of 
Tears . " 

Removal advocates needed funds before they could carry out 
their plans. The Removal Act of 183 provided the initial money and 
authority. Despite widespread support for the bill, a hard-fought 
battle preceded its passage. Jeremiah Evarts, a talented lawyer and 
editor, guided this opposition to the Removal Bill. 

14 



Evarts actively promoted missionary work in the 1820s. He 
had great faith in America's ability to fulfill his dreams "of a 
world fully evangelized, [and] of universal conversion to Christ. "16 
Because of Evarts 1 concern for the Indians and the respect that 
others had for him, Thomas L. McKenney, head of the Indian Office in 
Washington, D.C., solicited his support for Indian removal as early 
as March 1827. Evarts refused and soon came out against the 
concept . 1 7 

Opposition to removal, especially that of Evarts, focused 
on the Cherokee Nation in Georgia, but it applied to all of the 
eastern Indians. Using the pseudonym "William Penn," Evarts wrote a 
series of essays in which he presented both legal and moral arguments 
onbehalf of the Indians. His primary question was, " Have the Indian 
tribes, , a permanent title to the territory, which they 

inherited from their fathers, which they have neither forfeited nor 
sold, and which they now occupy?" [sic]^° 

Evarts believed there was no question reqarding the 
Cherokees' legal right to their lands. Quoting from treaties made 
with the Indians, he called attention to the frequent use of the word 
"guaranty" in them. "The power and good faith of the United States" 
assured enforcement of the treaties, Evarts stated, so the government 
needed to honor the treaty provisions to maintain its dignity. 
Evarts also appealed to his countrymen's sense of national honor in 

15 



stating his case for the Indians. He warned against succumbing to 
the "plenitude of our power, and . . . pride of our superiority."^ 
He implied that although the American people had not yet been guilty 
of condoning any " systematic legislation ," they would ultimately be 
held responsible for allowing the passage of removal legislation. 
Finally, Evarts appealed to the belief and faith in "The Great 
Arbiter of Nations." God would not tolerate any "injustice 
perpetrated against the weak by the strong." 20 

Many of those in favor of removal were also, like Evarts, 
genuinely concerned for the survival of the red man. Thomas 
McKenney, who had tried to gain Evarts' support in promoting removal, 
had long been considered a friend of the Indian. General William 
Clark, the former explorer and contemporary Superintendent of Indian 
Affairs at St. Louis, also supported removal, believing that the 
Indians were generally suffering from the adverse effects of white 
social habits and that their only way to survive was to get them away 
from the whites. Isaac McCoy, a frontier Baptist missionary who, for 
a time, had great influence in Washington, D.C., joined McKenney and 
Clark in their efforts to preserve the Natives. 

Policymakers in the 182 0s were confronted with several 
possible alternatives. Annihilation of the Indians as a race and as 
individuals comprised the first of these, and there were probably 
many people who considered this a feasible option. The Indians could 
also, theoretically, have been absorbed by the overpowering white 

16 



culture which surrounded them. That ignores the fact that few 
Indians wanted to lose their tribal identity. Advocated by men like 
Evarts, this course of action, would have allowed the Indians to 
remain in the east under the protection of the Army. The Army in the 
1830s, however, lacked sufficient manpower for such action, and 
Congress would not have authorized the increase necessary to guard 
the tribal reserves against white squatters. Removal beyond the line 
of white settlement seemed, to those in power, to be the best 
solution. 21 

Isaac McCoy recognized only two options for the tribes: 
removal or extinction. He felt that in the struggle between whites 
and Indians, the Indians always lost their lands, thus McCoy's goal 
centered on the establishment of a permanent Indian country where the 
Indians would have the time and distance from white civilization 
necessary to adapt and conform to the changing world. 22 

Isaac McCoy was not only a missionary, but a frontiersman. 
He spent most of his life on the fringe of settlement or in the 
Indian country itself founding missions and preaching to the Indians. 
Traveling frequently, McCoy led surveying expeditions into what was 
to be the Indians' permanent homeland and made several trips to 
Washington to consult with officials and to testify at hearings. 23 
Despite his best intentions, he held an ethnocentric view, assuming, 
as others did, that the Indians really wanted to adopt the white 
man 's culture . * 

17 



In May 1830, Congress finally passed the Removal Act by a 
slim margin. The Removal Act allowed the president to declare 
certain lands west of the Mississippi permanent Indian lands and to 
exchange those areas for the Indians' holdings east of the 
Mississippi. The Removal Act replaced the patch-work machinery used 
earlier with a single law that allowed the president to extinguish 
Indian land titles without the formal application of every community 
interested in doing so.^4 Though presented as being in the best 
interests of the Indians, Congressional passage of the bill implied 
the use of force if necessary. Congress authorized funding to aid 
voluntary removal westward, but willing or not, the Indians would 
move. 2 ^ But while the 1830 bill was a sweeping measure and provided 
adequate money to begin implementing the policy, the formation of the 
permanent Indian frontier required more than a single act of 
Congress . 

Several additional measures had to be enacted in order to 
make the permanent Indian frontier really operable. One goal, backed 
by such people as Isaac McCoy but never achieved, was the 
establishment of an organized Indian Territory with a representative 
in Congress. 



*This becomes apparent after reading several of the Annual 
Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the Congressional 
serials of the 1830s and 184 0s. 



18 



Proponents attempted to push this through Congress unsuccessfully in 
1834, but they lacked even the support of the Indians themselves. 26 

Two other measures affecting Indian affairs did, however, 
make it through Congress in 1834. A reorganization of the Indian 
Department under the Secretary of War increased the efficiency with 
which Indian matters were dealt. Indian Office agents gained greater 
security in their positions, and the accounting methods used in the 
disbursement of annuities were made more efficient, eliminating much 
"confusion and embarrassment." 2 ^ congress also passed the 
Intercourse Act of 1834 which actually did as much to establish the 
permanent Indian frontier as the Removal Act of 1830. This 
legislation improved upon similar laws dating back to 1790, which 
were designed to govern Indian-white relations and set up guidelines 
for all contact between the two cultures. The 1834 Intercourse Act 
increased the penalties for infractions such as selling liquor to the 
Indians and hunting and trapping in Indian country. The act also 
denied entry into the Indian lands to all white men except those 
traders and missionaries who possessed the proper licenses. Agents 
and subagents could appeal to the military to remove trespassers who 
violated the law and intruded in the area reserved for the Indians. 2 ** 

Together with the Removal Act of 1830, the Intercourse Act 
of 1834 laid the foundation for the permanent Indian frontier. It 
took several years of treaty negotiations with various Indian tribes 



19 



before the concept even began to function, but by 1834, the policy 
which governed Indian affairs for the next twenty years was formed 
and waiting to be implemented. Though the policy did not work as 
planned in civilizing the Indians behind an impressive long-term 
barrier, the concept of the permanent Indian frontier did attempt to 
deal with the Indians in a way that was mutually beneficial to all 
concerned . 

The garrison at Fort Scott enforced the Indian policy as 
well as it could in the years 1842-1853. Despite selecting the best 
site possible to influence the Indians and their white neighbors in 
Missouri, the Army could not prevent contacts between the two races. 
White influence intruded into the Indian territory throughout the 
period in which Fort Scott was to enforce segregation, so the 
civilization of the Indians could not proceed unhampered as planned. 



20 



Chapter One Endnotes 

1. Francis Paul Prucha, American Indian Policy in the Formative 
Years; The Indian Trade and Intercourse Acts, 1790-1834 (Lincoln: 
University of Nebraska Press, 1972), 140. 

2. Ibid., 140-143. 

3. House Committee on Indian Affairs, Removal of Indians , 21st 
Cong., 1st sess., H. Rep. 227, serial 200, 6-7. 

4. Prucha, Formative Years , 13-20. 

5. Henry Putney Beers, The Western Military Frontier, 1815-1846 
(Philadelphia: privately printed, 1935), 56, 94. 

6. Ibid., 56-57. 

7. Jeremiah Evarts, Cherokee Removal: The "William Penn" Essays and 
other Writings , ed. Francis Paul Prucha (Knoxville: University of 
Tennessee Press, 1981), 3; and Francis Paul Prucha, "Indian Removal 
and the Great American Desert" in Indian Policy in the United States : 
Historical Essays (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981), 
100-101. 

8. Beers, Military Frontier , 94; and George A. Schultz, An Indian 
Canaan: Isaac McCoy and the Vision of an Indian State (Norman: 
University of Oklahoma Press, 1972), 85. 

9. Francis Paul Prucha, "Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy: A 
Reassessment," Journal of American History 56 (Dec. 1969): 527-539; 
and Ronald N. Satz, American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era 
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press), 1975. 

10. Ibid., 531. 

11. Ibid., 527, 533-534. 

12. Ibid., 531-532; and Prucha, Formative Years , 234. 

13. Prucha, Formative Years , 227. 

14. Ibid., 227-232; and Evarts, Cherokee Removal , 5. 

15. Prucha, "A Reassessment," 531. 

21 



16. Evarts, Cherokee Removal , 6. 

17. Ibid., 7. 

18. Ibid., 52. 

19. Ibid., 92, 49. 

20. Ibid., 51. 

21. Prucha, "A Reassessment," 534-53 6. 

22. Schultz, Indian Canaan , 124-125. 

23. For a thorough account of Isaac McCoy's life and career, see 
Schultz, Indian Canaan cited above. A much more personal account is 
contained in McCoy's journals located at the Kansas State Historical 
Society, Manuscript Division, Topeka. 

24. Schultz, Indian Canaan , 134. 

25. Prucha, Formative Years , 238-239. 

26. Ibid., 270-273. 

27. Ibid., 251. 

28. Ibid., 263-264. 



22 



CHAPTER TWO 



CIVILIZING THE INDIANS 



23 



Chapter Two 

Civilizing the Indians 

By the time that the Intercourse Act of 183 4 became law, 
the policy of establishing a permanent Indian frontier had been 
accepted by officials as possible and desirable. The ultimate goals 
of this policy included much more than just moving the Indians out of 
the way of white expansion. Many individuals certainly cared only 
that good farmland be cleared of those who were not making efficient 
use of it, while many felt that the Native Americans risked 
extinction from contact with white society and wished to assure their 
survival. The only way to do that, they felt, was to isolate the 
Indians until they could adapt to an agricultural lifestyle and 
become like white men. 

As early as 1790, the intercourse acts established annual 
funds to be used in helping the Indians change their ways of life. 
The government made plows and looms available hoping that the Indians 
would realize the advantages in abandoning hunting as a means of 
survival. Some treaties between the United States and Indian tribes 
also provided for blacksmiths and carpenters to live near the Indians 
to help them make tools and build homes . 1 



24 



Thomas Jefferson saw the desirability of convincing the 
Indians to change. He was convinced that raising crops and livestock 
meant an easier life and less land needed. With that end in mind, 
President Jefferson urged the establishment of government trading 
houses that would demonstrate to the Indians the quality and 
availability of manufactured goods . ^ Always present in the concern 
for the well-being of the tribes was the belief that once the Indians 
did accept an agricultural life, they would roam less, change their 
values, and require much less land to support their populations. 
That would obviously open substantial tracts of land to white 
farmers . 

In adopting the values, dress, and vocations of white 
civilization, the Indians also acquired some of the whites' vices. 
Foremost among these evils was the abuse of alcohol, from which many 
of the Indians' other problems stemmed. Violence occurred quite 
often among drunken Indians and many traders used cheap whiskey as a 
means of getting better deals from those who car.e to barter. The 
Indians consistently lost in their struggles against unscrupulous 
whites. Because of this, Isaac McCoy and others who shared his 
convictions campaigned for the establishment of a permanent home for 
the Indians where they would be safe at least until they could learn 
to cope with those who would take advantage of them. 3 

By about 1830 it became apparent to many officials that the 
two cultures could not exist in proximity. The only solution short 

25 



of the destruction of the Indians seemed to be removal beyond the 
jurisdiction of the States and out of the way of settlers. President 
Andrew Jackson himself stated that moving the tribes to the far west 
did "not place them beyond the reach of philanthropic aid and 
Christian instruction."^ Isaac McCoy was another man who wanted to 
work for the Indians' "Chr istiani zation and civilization/' and felt 
it had to be done far from the corruption of white traders and 
pioneers. 5 The Indians would not be shipped out west and then 
forgotten . 

The huge reservations mapped out for the emigrating Indians 
in the 1830s lay west of the Mississippi River as originally 
projected by Thomas Jefferson, but by the time removal became a 
general policy applicable to all of the eastern Indians, their new 
homes lay even farther west, in the region popularly known as the 
Great American Desert. One modern historian has pointed out, 
however, that although the concept of the Great American Desert was 
recognized at the time, officials did not intend to place the Indians 
on such inhospitable lands . ^ 

Even in the late 1820s, the area which later became the 
State of Kansas was basically unmapped and unexplored. Thomas 
McKenney admitted his ignorance on the type of land in the west, but 
urged that the lands be examined for suitability before they were 
turned over to the Indians. 7 The land west of Missouri and Arkansas 
could obviously support the roving bands who followed the buffalo 

26 



herds, but the government sought agricultural land for the emigrant 
tribes. McKenney encouraged delegations of Indians to travel west 
and, to a certain degree, choose the lands to which they would move . 8 
Indians accompanied surveying expeditions led by Isaac McCoy. The 
policy of allowing Indians to pick their own lands influenced some of 
the bands and convinced them to pack their belongings and make the 
journey west . 

The encouragement of agriculture among the Indians involved 
more than giving them land and tools. The majority of the emigrants 
had to be instructed in the use of the tools furnished, government 
officials advocated the founding of schools to teach them. At the 
schools, the Indians learned the advantages of farming and other 
domestic industries over their former way of life. It was then 
possible, in theory, to absorb them into the mainstream of American 
society. Though these schools were founded as a rule by missionary 
groups, thv=y did not thrive until after the government furnished 
financial support. ^ 

Indian schools fell into two basic categories: academic, 
like those which white children attended, and manual labor schools, 
geared to the special needs of the Indians. The academic schools did 
not have the desired effects on the Indians. Once educated in areas 
like the basic sciences, the Indian youths seemed to lose touch with 
their Indian heritage and often exhibited little enthusiasm for 
returning to their tribes, taking their educations back to their 

27 



tribes and teaching others. Only a few Indian boys could attend high 
schools and colleges, and so the benefits of such educations did not 
extend beyond those who actually attended the schools. ^ 

Another problem with this type of Indian education was the 
expense involved. In 1830, the Shawnees had the chance to send 
several of their young men to a school in Kentucky for two hundred 
dollars each, but the tribe felt it could not afford that much. They 
were, however, very interested in establishing a school nearby, which 
had the advantages of less cost, less distance, and a greater number 
of available students. H Missionaries built most of their schools in 
proximity to the tribal lands. 

In meeting the government's goal of promoting agriculture 
among the Indians, manual labor schools enjoyed more success and 
support than those institutions which offered only the standard 
primary education. In a manual labor school, the student received 
basic instruction in reading and writing English, but he also learned 
how to "make fences; plough and cultivate the fields; 
manufacture the requisite utensils; repair his gun; and in short, 
supply all his own wants and exert a useful influence among his 
people . "12 

Missionaries often opened their own little schools quite 
near the tribes with whom they were working, but other concerned 
people preferred larger, centrally located schools. They saw 

28 



advantages in running boarding schools where the students could not 
return home every day. Without a long-term influence, the student 
might forget his education after returning to his own, primitive, 
village life. At a larger school, more students could be taught by a 
single instructor, increasing time- and cost-effectiveness, and the 
students could be drawn from a greater number of tribes. English 
would become the standard language because it would be the only 
language all of the students had to learn. 13 

Missionary work began in the western Indian country in 1824 
under the United Foreign Missionary Society with the founding of the 
Mission Neosho by the Reverend Benton Pixley.14 Several 
denominations built missions in eastern Kansas, quite often with 
schools as part of their operation. In addition to the 
Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, and Baptists also worked on 
Christianizing the heathens. Of these groups, Methodists and 
Baptists "dominated the religious life of the frontier." Methodists 
had the support of a well-organized and powerful central body. The 
Baptists, on the other hand, had no central authority. A man might 
get the call to preach to the Indians, like Isaac McCoy, and devote 
his life to it without ever enjoying major financial support. 15 

McCoy worked most of his life for the improvement of the 
Indians. He spent a great deal of time traveling between his 
missions on the frontier and Washington, where he often met with 
political leaders. He never seemed to have enough money to support 

29 






his missionary efforts or even his family. He summed up his efforts 

by stating: 

My present business is one which has long been 
more desireable [sic] notwithstanding it is so 
exceedingly labourious and is accompanied by so many 
privations. I have an opportunity of exerting 
influ[ence] on the main subject of giving to all of the 
tribes a suitable home, and on the measures necessary to 
be adopted for the improvement of their condition 
subsequently .1° 

Another Baptist missionary and an acquaintance of Isaac 
McCoy was Jotham Meeker. Meeker founded the Ottawa Baptist Mission 
in what is today east-central Kansas in 1837. 17 Several years later 
Meeker was recognized by the Indian subagent in the area as being a 
"devoted missionary, whose unwearied zeal for the present and future 
welfare of the Ottawas has made them a truly industrious and moral 
people. "18 Missionaries like these took it upon themselves to 
educate and civilize the Indians. 

The Federal Government cooperated with the missionaries and 
supported their work, but it also had its own guidelines to aid the 
Indians in their new homes.* Briefly, the measures to be taken 
included the following: 



1. Protection of the Indian lands by the maintenance of specific 
boundaries . 

2. Prevention of the acquisition of Indian lands by anyone 
other than the federal government. 



*For a more detailed account of these guidelines as related 
by Secretary of War Lewis Cass in 1831, see the appendix. 

30 



country 



3. Enforcement of the Indian trade laws. 

4. Interruption of the whiskey traffic into the Indian 



5. Provisions for the apprehension and trial of the 
members of either race who commit crimes against the other. 

6. Support for the programs and people dedicated to the 
education and civilization of the red man. 19 



To a large extent, the army became the instrument for 
carrying out the above rules by functioning largely as a frontier 
police force. Part of the military's actions stemmed from its 
assisting the Indian agents in the area of any particular fort, but 
occasionally field commanders received explicit orders on Indian 
matters from their superiors. Removing squatters from the Indian 
country or Indians from white settlements were both standard duties 
of the soldiers, but quite often the troops embarked on major 
expeditions to impress the tribes and negotiate treaties. The 
history of the permanent Indian frontier is, in some respects, a 
study of Army-Indian relations. 



31 



Chapter Two Endnotes 

1. Francis Paul Prucha, American Indian Policy in the Formative 
Years: The Trade and Intercourse Acts, 1790-1834 (Lincoln: 
University of Nebraska Press, 1962), 217-218. 

2. Ibid., 215-216. 

3. Ibid., 224; and George A. Schultz, An Indian Canaan: Isaac McCoy 
and the Vision of an Indian State (Norman: University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1972) , x. 

4. Annual Message from the President , Dec. 6, 1931, 22nd Cong., 1st 
sess., H. Doc. 2, serial 216, 12. 

5. Schultz, Indian Canaan , xiii-xiv. 

6. For a thorough discussion of this point, see Francis Paul Prucha, 
"Indian Removal and the Great American Desert," in Indian Policy in 
the United States: Historical Essays (Lincoln: University of 
Nebraska Press, 1981), 92-111. 

7. Ibid., 104. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Prucha, Formative Years , 214, 220. 

10. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs , Nov. 3 0, 
1847, 30th Cong., 1st sess., S. Ex. Doc. 1, serial 503, 749. 

11. Isaac McCoy Journal, Oct. 17, 1830, Kansas State Historical 
Society, Manuscript Division, Topeka (hereafter referred to as KSHS) . 

12. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs , Nov. 2 4, 
1845, "29th Cong., 1st sess., S. Doc. 1, serial 470, 453-454. 

13. Report from Rev. Thomas Johnson in Annual Report of the 
Commissioner of Indian Affairs , Nov. 25, 1839, 26th Cong., 1st sess., 
Doc . 1, serial 354, 433-434. 

14. J. J. Lutz, "The Methodist Missions Among the Indian Tribes in 
Kansas," Kansas Historical Collections 9 (1905-1906): 160. 

15. Schultz, Indian Canaan , 3-4. 

32 



16. McCoy Journal, May 6, 1831, KSHS. 

17. Lutz, "Methodist Missions," 160. 

18. Report of Alfred J. Vaughan in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , Nov. 30, 1846, 29th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Doc. 1, 
serial 493, 306. 

19. Prucha, Formative Years, 2. 



33 



CHAPTER THREE 
ENFORCING THE FRONTIER 



34 



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Louise Barry, "The Fort 
Leavenworth-Fort Gibson 
Military Road and the 
Founding of Fort Scott/' 

Kansas Historical 
Quarterly 11 (May 1942) 
facing page 120. 



Chapter Three 

Enforcing the Frontier 

Indian peacekeeping duties occupied the United States Array 
for most of its early years. Since the majority of the nation's 
soldiers garrisoned widespread outposts, their assignments included 
exploring and mapping new territories, and aiding Indian agents with 
such tasks as disbursing annuities, regulating trade, and quelling 
disturbances. All of these activities can be brought under the 
heading of safeguarding the frontier. To the Indians, the army 
symbolized the United States. ^ 

Western defense posed difficult problems in the decade 
leading up to the establishment of Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1842. 
Because of the traditional opposition to a large standing army and a 
financial panic in the late 1830s; Congress opposed any increase in 
military spending. Internal and external events gave rise to the 
need for more appropriations, though, and so the question of frontier 
defense generated widespread political debate. 

The removal of the various Indian tribes alone required a 
great deal of expenditures, but the posts built and maintained to 
guard the boundary also added to expenses. Arguments and documents 
projecting what was really needed for the defense of the nation 

36 



abounded. Two wars which stemmed from the Indians' resistance to 
removal, the Blackhawk War of 1832 and the Second Seminold War of the 
mid-1830s through the 1840s, accented the cries of those who demanded 
that more be spent on defense against the "savages." Given the 
reluctance of Congress, not everyone could be satisfied. The 
Seminole War, instead of causing a substantial military increase, 
forced a rearrangement of the forces then available. At a time when 
eastern Indians were swelling the native population just to the west 
of the organized states and territories, some frontier posts were 
abandoned, and many of the troops withdrawn and sent to Florida. 2 

Not everyone in the government agreed on the proper 
attitude to take toward the Indians in the west. The native Plains 
Indians had to be regarded as at least potentially dangerous. 
Treaties had been signed only with the Kansas, Osage, and Pawnee 
tribes in the Kansas area, and with the Sioux farther north. That 
left such nomadic tribes as the Comanches and Cheyennes to do 
basically as they wished, which often meant preying on the displaced 
tribes who trespassed on their hunting grounds. 

Many of the removal treaties, especially those with the 
southern Indians, contained provisions which stated that the United 
States would protect the tribes from hostile whites and other 
Indians. In addition, the government furnished about 10,000 emigrant 
warriors with firearms to defend themselves. ^ Yet some of these same 
Indians were suspected of having "smothered feelings of hostilities 

37 



ranking in their bosoms," because they had been sent west against 
their wills. ^ Settlers in Missouri and Arkansas demanded protection 
from the emigrants as well as the native tribes." 

The Indians, both those indigenous to the Plains and those 
placed there, were not the only concern of those charged with 
defending the nation's western boundaries. The conflict between 
Mexico and Texas over the latter' s independence remained a problem 
for the United states until finally settled in the Mexican-American 
War. The control of Oregon and incidents with Canada cast doubt on 
the continuance of peaceful relations with Great Britain. As a rule, 
however, when one discussed western defense during the 1830s and 
early 1840s, debates centered on the Indians. ^ 

The late 1830s saw major activity in stabilizing the 
permanent Indian frontier. Several steps were taken. As Col. Steven 
Watts Kearny, a frontier veteran, stated in 1837, "the preliminary 
measures to protecting the frontier are to have the frontier 
definitely settled." The next step was to survey and construct a 
road to connect the posts already on the frontier, and the last 
necessary project involved the building of additional "strong and 
permanent military works, garrisoned by infantry or artillery." 8 

The frontier ran west of, and roughly parallel to, the 
Mississippi River. The northernmost post was Fort Snelling near what 
is today St. Paul, Minnesota. The frontier line ran south through 

38 



Iowa, past Fort Leavenworth, and then south along the western 
boundaries of Missouri and Arkansas to Forts Gibson and Towson in 
present-day Oklahoma, with a southern terminus at Fort Jesup in 
Louisiana. Those forts, and other posts that were built and 
abandoned, were constructed with an eye "to their geographical 
advantages, and to the moral effect they were calculated to have upon 
the Indians." ^ 

In examining possible post sites, selecting officers 
considered defensible positions, available water, and transportation 
routes, rather than the extension of a continuous string of forts 
which would mark a rough line between Indian and white territory. 
The army built forts and then abandoned them as the local situation 
seemed to dictate. This caused confusion among the Indians in the 
vicinity of the deserted posts. Some felt that they were being left 
unprotected by the government, while other, hostile tribes believed 
that they had forced the soldiers to leave through intimidation. 1 ^ 
By the late 1830s, the determining factors in the location of a 
frontier post had changed to reflect the concept of the permanent 
Indian frontier. The government decided additional military strength 
was needed to maintain peaceful relations with and between emigrants 
and the Plains tribes. 

In his last message as president, Andrew Jackson 
recommended the construction of addi tonal forts in and along the 
Indian country. More posts had become necessary because of the 

39 



number of Indians being moved into the area. Several years earlier, 
in 1834, a total of 35,000 Indians had been placed there, which meant 
well over 8,000 potential warriors.* About a thousand soldiers 
guarded the border between Forts Leavenworth and Jesup at the time.l 

Military leaders argued that additional troops on the 
frontier would reduce the chance that they would have to be used in 
combat. An effective buildup meant deploying the forces in a way to 
impress those Indians which most needed to be shown the strength of 
the United States. -^ Thus, while any new posts were built with the 
larger picture of the entire Indian frontier in mind, they still had 
to be near enough any likely trouble-spot to deter aggression and 
render aid to other forts if needed. In the case of Fort Scott, it 
was built midway between Forts Gibson and Leavenworth to fill the 
perceived gap in the defenses of the frontier. Other determining 
factors in Fort Scott's location included the pleas from Missouri 
residents for protection against the Osage Indians, and the fact that 
the Fort Scott site had ample wood and water to supply such a post. 

Once Congress decided that additional installations were 
needed, the debates on how many, how large, and where to place them 
began. Cost remained a major factor throughout this period; the army 



*The formula used in determining the approximate number of 
warriors was one warrior for every four Indians in the tribe. 



40 



could not simply build all of the forts it desired. Col. Zachary 
Taylor, later President of the United States, favored temporary posts 
that could be advanced as the Indians withdrew westward. 1 -^ This was 
somewhat prophetic in seeing the end of the permanent Indian 
frontier, but most officials in the late 1830s held to the concept 
and wanted permanent fortifications. One of the defense plans not 
adopted called for the establishment of two lines of forts, a forward 
line in the Indian country, and a second line well back for the 
refuge of settlers in the event of Indian attack. Central storage 
depots and reserves were to be held at Jefferson Barracks near St. 
Louis, Missouri, and at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.^ 

Another difference of opinion centered on the size of the 
forts and garrisons needed to guard the permanent Indian frontier. 
Gen. Winfield Scott and Quartermaster General Thomas Jesup supported 
Col. Kearny's plan for the maintenance of a small number of 
relatively large posts. These would cost less to build than a 
greater number of smaller sites and improve the qaality of training 
that the soldiers received. Kearny wanted to drill the troops in 
larger units than the one or two companies that had been standard up 
until that time, training which he considered necessary for large 
expeditions onto the prairies. Campaigning time was limited to the 
spring and early summer because the dragoons needed sufficient forage 
for their mounts. Limiting the travel time needed to rendezvous 
increased the period that could be spent in the field. 15 



41 



Secretary of War Jonathan Bell endorsed the plan for a 

greater number of small frontier posts. In August 1841, he wrote: 

Of all the causes of future disturbances and 
war between the Indians and the frontier inhabitants of 
the States, the one most to be feared is a careless and 
inefficient civil police. Small military posts, 

judiciously distributed upon the boundary between the 
States and the Indian tribes, will be of essential 
service in preventing causes of quarrel and bloodshed; 
especially when employed as auxiliary to the law and 
the civil magistrates.^- 6 



As usual in political debates, the net result for the 
frontier forts was a compromise. Forts such as Leavenworth and 
Gibson remained relatively large, and served as depots and regimental 
headquarters. Others, Fort Scott among them, were designed for only 
squadrons or companies of troops. Between 1833 and 1844, the army 
built fifteen forts and camps, most of them along the permanent 
Indian frontier. Only a small number of them lasted more than a few 
years before changes in Indian policy caused their abandonment .1' 

Generally, forts built on the frontier during this period 
were located on navigable rivers which made supply and communication 
lines easier to keep open. Compromises had to be made, though. 
Beyond the first tier of states west of the Mississippi there were 
few navigable streams, so not all of the forts could be built on 
large rivers and still meet the other guidelines for location. Some 
of the "navigable streams" in the west could carry traffic only in 
the springtime floods. As a result, the building of military roads 
connecting the forts became necessary . 18 <phe government authorized 

42 



the construction of military roads beginning in the late eighteenth 
century. With the institution of the permanent Indian frontier, the 
north-south road which was eventually built served not only a route 
connecting the forts, but also as a rough boundary line between the 
western states and the Indian country. For this reason, Secretaries 
of War Lewis Cass (1831-1836) and Joel Poinsett (1837-1841) both 
stressed that the road should be in the Indian territory and not 
within State boundaries .^ As long as the Indians remained on their 
side of the military road, there would be no disputes with State 
governments over jurisdiction of Indian conflicts. 

Col. Henry Dodge of the United States First Dragoons 
initially expressed his recommendations for a road running from Fort 
Leavenworth to Fort Gibson in January 1835. More than a year elapsed 
before Congress finally authorized a surveying party to map the route 
and examine possible sites for military posts. 20 

Work on the survey and construction preceeded slowly. The 
officers given responsibility for the survey, Col. Kearny, Maj . T. T. 
Smith, and Capt . Nathan Boone, accomplished very little in 1837, but 
completed the survey in 1838.21 Work commenced on the road and it 
was completed in 1844. When finished, the military road linked the 
western forts from Snelling on the northern Mississippi River to 
Towson where the Red River connected Fort Towson to Fort Jesup in 
Louisiana. 22 



43 



Construction of the road came to be a major occupation for 
the frontier soldiers. The Engineer Corps of the army busied itself 
with the construction of coastal fortifications and the Corps of 
Topographical Engineers did not have the resources to oversee the 
construction, so the duty often fell on the shoulders of the officers 
and enlisted men. 23 j n the case of Fort Scott, however, the Army did 
use some craftsmen from Missouri. The lack of both skilled labor and 
strong financial backing determined the time at which the road could 
be completed. Trueman Cross, Acting Quartermaster General in 1838, 
stated that western garrisons lacked the men to gather their own 
firewood, let alone construct the road. 24 The situation remained 
basically unchanged until after the Mexican-American War when 
Congress allowed troop increases. 

Defense of the western frontier depended not only on the 
north-south road and the posts established along the its length, but 
also on the troops stationed at the posts. Col. Kearny recommended 
garrisons be composed of artillery or infantry, but in addition to 
these troops, soldiers were needed to patrol the prairies to make 
their presence known to the Indians. The army needed a mounted 
branch of service to be effective against the Plains tribes. 
Congress had abolished mounted soldiers in 1821 in order to satisfy 
public protest against large military budgets. 25 Dragoon and cavalry 
units were expensive to field because of the cost of their equipment 
and mounts. By the time the United States reached the prairies in 
the late 1820s, there was no suitable alternative to a regular unit 

44 



on horseback. In the view of Gen. Winfield Scott, for whom Fort 
Scott was named, "a warrior on horseback looks upon foot-soldiers, 
beyond the limited range of muskets without any sense of danger. "26 
Mounted volunteers could be used, but they were limited to reaction, 
and not organized for preventative measures against the Indians. 
That, in addition to the fact that their short terms of service often 
ran out before the enemy could be engaged, made their use 
undesirable . 

In 1832, Congress enacted a short-term measure designed to 
meet the problem of defense on the Plains. A regiment of mounted 
rangers were recruited for western service, but these troops did not 
work out 

as well as envisioned for several reasons. Their enlistment ran for 
only one year and they had to furnish their own mounts and equipment, 
for which they were compensated. 27 That resulted in a tremendous 
variety in dress and armament. A year later Congress authorized the 
regiment of United States Dragoons. 

The dragoons performed a vital role in dealing with the 
Plains Indians. Besides being able to pursue marauding Indians if 
the need arose, they could patrol with greater ease and speed, making 
them more visible to more Indians. Another important element of the 
dragoons was their uniforms. Sometimes bedraggled after a long 



45 



summer of crossing the Plains, dragoons could still stage quite a 
display at treaty-signing ceremonies and similar occasions when in 
dress uniforms. ^8 

The organization of the United States Dragoons in 1833, 
soon followed by the 2nd Dragoons, and the construction of the 
military road from Fort Snelling to Fort Towson, brought the 
enforcement of the permanent Indian frontier within reach. By 1838 
when construction of the road began, it seemed as if the Indians 
would, indeed, have their permanent home where they could learn the 
ways of civilization. The frontier still contained many gaps which 
had to be filled in order to stop the whiskey trade and illegal 
tresspassers from both sides of the line. Fort Scott was one of the 
forts constructed for this purpose. 



46 



Chapter Three Endnotes 

1. Henry Putney Beers, The Western Military Frontier, 1815-1846 
(Philadelphia: privately printed, 193 5), 173. 

2. Ibid., 125-126. 

3. Ibid., 97-98. 

4. Ibid., 97. 

5. Letter from the Secretary of War , April 13, 1840, 26th Cong., 1st 
sess~ S~. Doc . 379, serial 359, 6. 

6. Eloise Frisbie Robbins, "The Original Military Post Road Between 
Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott," Kansas History 1 (Summer 1978), 90. 

7. Protect Western Frontier , March 3, 1836, 24th Cong., 1st sess., 
H. Rep. 401, serial 294, 1. 

8. Letter from S. W. Kearny in Western Frontier , 25th Cong., 2nd 
sess., H. Doc. 276, serial 338, 9-10. 

9. Protect Western Frontier , H. Rep. 401, serial 294, 3. 

10. Ibid., 3-4. 

11. Beers, Military Frontier , 121. 

12. Protect Western Frontier , H. Rep. 401, serial 294, 2, 5. 

13. Beers, Military Frontier , 127-128. 

14. Ibid., 128; and Letter from Secretary of War , S. Doc. 379, 
serial 359, 7. 

15. Robert M. Utley, Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army 
and the Indian, 1848-1865 (New York: Macmillian, 1967), 54. 

16. Letter from Secretary of War Bell in Troops Stationed at Forts 
Gibson, Towson, Smith and Wayne , Aug. 31, 1841, 27th Cong., 1st 
sess., H. Doc. 392, 2. 

17. Beers, Military Frontier , 172. 

18. Ibid., 70. 

19. Military Road, Western Frontier, &c . , H. Doc. 278, serial 328, 
10; and Protection of Western Frontier , Jan. 3, 1838, 25th Cong., 2nd 
sess., H. Doc. 59, serial 322, 5. 

47 



20. Beers, Military Frontier , 118-119. 

21. Letter from Secretary of War Poinsett in Military Road , Western 
Frontier , &c . , H. Doc. 278, serial 328, 2. 

22. Beers, Military Frontier , 131, 136. 

23. Ibid., 103. 

24. Report of the Acting Quartermaster General in Military Road, 
Western Frontier, &c . , H. Doc. 278, serial 328, 9. 

2 5. Randy Steffen, The Horse Soldier, 1776-1943, Vol. 1, The 
Revolution, the War of 1812, the Early Frontier, 1776-1850 (Norman: 
University of Oklahoma Press, 1977), 84. 

26. Report of the Major General Commanding the Army in Annual Report 
of the Secretary of War , November 26, 1842, 27th Cong., 3rd sess., S. 
Doc. 1, serial 413, 199-200. 

27. Steffen, Horse Soldier , Vol. 1, 84-86. 

28. Ibid., 88; and Beers, Military Frontier , 109-110. 



48 



CHAPTER FOUR 
THE ROLE OF FORT SCOTT 



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51 







Chapter Four 

The Role of Fort Scott 

The first construction at the post that became Fort Scott 
began on April 9, 1842, and the site officially received its garrison 
at the end of May. The history of Fort Scott actually began years 
before. The first surveys for the military road mentioned the 
Marmaton River as a possible location for a fort. The location 
midway between Forts Leavenworth and Gibson meant troops on the 
Marmaton could fill the gap in the line of installations along the 
permanent Indian frontier and help to enforce the laws designed to 
protect both the farmers of Missouri and area Indians. Although Fort 
Scott was not built until years after the passage of the removal and 
intercourse legislation, construction began as soon as military plans 
and resources allowed. This early period of Fort Scott's history 
revolved around its functions as an outpost on the border of the 
Indian country. 

The first garrison at Fort Scott came from Fort Wayne in 
the Cherokee Nation in present-day northeastern Oklahoma. In 1837, 
Col. Zachary Taylor ordered the members of the commission surveying 
the route for the north-south military road to note possible sites 
for the establishment of a post to replace Fort Wayne, which the 

52 



Cherokees disliked having on their land.* The Marmaton site was 
considered even before Fort Wayne was built in 1839, but the army did 
not have the funds or manpower to place forts at both locations. 
Fort Scott, therefore, was not built until after Fort Wayne had been 
abandoned. Despite the desire for a garrison where Fort Scott was 
eventually built and the complaints from a delegation of Cherokees in 
1841, the order to evacuate Wayne and occupy a new site was not 
issued until February 10, 1842, after Maj . Ethan Allen Hitchcock 
recommended construction of a new post.^ 

When officers surveyed the Indian frontier and reported on 
the need for posts, they made their recommendations based on their 
training and experience. Congress then decided what was needed for 
defense and the amount that could be spent. In the case of Fort 
Scott, two forts were earlier recommended for the area. Fort Scott 
was built as a compromise between the two sites suggested, one where 
the military road crossed Spring River, about eighty miles south of 
Fort Leavenworth, and the other at the Marais des Cygne crossing 
eighty-six miles farther south. ■* 

Gen. Winfield Scott, for whom the fort was named, opposed 
the proliferation of forts along the Indian border. He felt some 
posts were obviously necessary. However, because he was the Major 
General of the Army—the highest-ranking officer — he probably felt 
more congressional pressure to be economical than the officers who 
advocated a greater number of small forts. ^ Citizens of Missouri 

53 



also requested that additonal forts be built. In 1843 a memorial 
from the General Assembly of Missouri asked for the establishment of 
another post between Forts Scott and Leavenworth, but it was never 
built and probably never seriously considered by the Army.^ 

The construction of Fort Scott began in the spring of 1842 
near where the road crossed the Marmaton River. The site was a few 
miles west of the Missouri State line on land that had been reserved 
for various small tribes of New York Indians. Few of them ever 
emigrated to the area, so the Army did not have to concern itself 
with establishing its right to the grounds. 

The completion of Fort Scott took several years. The lack 
of skilled laborers in the vicinity contributed to the slow pace, but 
the military duties of the garrison also hampered efforts to complete 
the fort. 6 These actions consisted of aiding the Indian agents and 
subagents near the fort in carrying out the provisions of the Inter- 
course Act of 1834 and preventing inter-tribal conflicts. 

Potential for warfare existed within the Indian lands. 
Many different tribes lived reasonably close together; among those 
were some that continued their traditional animosity toward their 
neighbors. The Sioux from the norther plains devoted much of their 
energies to fighting the Pottawattamie and Pawnees. The Pawnees in 
turn regularly attacked the Osage and Kansas Indians. 7 



54 






The hostilities among the native Plains tribes were a 
traditional part of that culture but a threat to peace on the 
frontier. Although the government disapproved and attempted to 
prevent such conflicts, struggles between the indigenous tribes and 
the emigrants were an even greater danger to the existence of the 
permanent Indian frontier by threatening to spread all along the 
border. As early as 1817 warfare between the Osages and emigrant 
Cherokees brought the United States Army into what is today eastern 
Oklahoma and western Arkansas. A treaty signed with the Cherokee 
Nation in 1817 obtained the right for the United States to build a 
fort in the area to help keep peace between the tribes.** 

Many of the war-parties actually began as hunting-parties 
only to change their purpose after being disappointed in the pursuit 
of game. The emigrants, even those accustomed to raising their own 
crops and livestock, often preferred to hunt the buffalo and antelope 
of the Plains. With this additional pressure, the herds shrank 
rapidly and increasing numbers of hunters returned home unsuccessful. 
This problem also caused the Indians to seek new hunting grounds at 
the expense of other tribes' traditional lands, despite the creation 
of "neutral" grounds and outlets to the open prairie. 9 

Many of the emigrants adopted the trappings of civilization 
in dress, religion, and values, yet when confronted with the hostile 
tribes of the Plains, the emigrants had a tendency to revert to the 
old ways. When disappointed hunters preyed on the livestock of the 

55 



newcomers, violent retaliation often resulted. 10 The forts built by 
the United States Army kept the peace between all of the tribes more 
than they protected the emigrants against the native tribes because 
the emigrants generally stood up to attack better than their enemies. 
Not only were the emigrants better-armed as a rule, they had been in 
contact with the white man longer and had learned from that 
experience .H 

Fort Scott, like most frontier posts, did not see any major 
Indian battles during its existence. 12 The tribes located in that 
part of Kansas were not as fierce in the 1840s as they had once been. 
Only the Osages were native to that area, and by the time of Fort 
Scott's occupation, the tribe suffered from widespread abuse of 
alcohol. The mere presence of the fort probably helped to keep the 
Indians peaceful and the violence that did occur was not warfare, but 
isolated incidents. 

The forts on the permanent Indian frontier did more than 
maintain order among the tribes. The army also had to protect the 
states and people just to the east of the boundary. Appeals from 
Missouri contributed the most to the building of Fort Scott, because 
Congress had to listen to concerned voters in the frontier states, a 
crucial area of support in the sectional battles that loomed. 

The annual reports of the Indian agents in the field make 
up many of the records from this period. They generally echoed each 

56 



other, stating how well the Indians were doing in their progression 

to civilization, while at the same time lamenting the abuse of 

alcohol and the prevalence of old habits and customs. In 184 5, the 

Osages were reported to be "as comfortable as their manner of life 

and indolent dispositions will allow. They have also been generally 

healthy, although many cases of consumption have taken place among 

them . . . . M 13 soon after assuming his duties as the Neosho 

subagent in 1845, James S. Raines Wrote: 

From a thorough examination of the former reports 
made in relation to these Indians, I find that the 
greatest improvements are spoken of every year — so much 
so that, if you could possibly believe that these 
Indians really have made such rapid strides on the road 
towards civilization, education, agriculture, and 
industry of every kind, as has been reported, you might 
correctly imagine them to be at least up side by side, 
if not ahead of the most civilized, wisest, moral, 
industrious, wealthy, and enterprising people on 
earth. 14 



Some of the Indians did seem to make genuine progress, 
though. In 1846, the Peorias and Kaskaskias raised "exceedingly 
promising crops of corn," enough to get them through that winter 
safely. Two factors stood out that contributed to the successes they 
achieved: the two tribes adhered to the Roman Catholic Church, and 
no longer received government annuities. 1 ^ The fact these tribes' 
annuities had expired forced them to raise their own food or suffer 
from hunger. Still, their adaptation spoke well of their 

determination to survive at a time when many Indians perished. 



57 



The influence of churches is really on the Indians is 
difficult to trace. Despite the apparent sincerity of many of the 
Indians, progress remained sporadic. Records from the Delaware 
Baptist Mission from 1841 detailed the case of one Indian, Jonas 
Konkaput. He was suspended from communion and other church 
activities for drunkenness, but after he repented, the church 
"unanimously agreed" to allow him back. Konkaput was again "overcome 
by intemperance" and barred from the church, to be readmitted only 
after the church was convinced that his repentance would last 
longer. !6 Konkaput, like so many other Indians, simply could not 
resist the lure of easily-obtained alcohol. 

Cultural habits and poor health added to the Indians* 
problems in their Kansas homes. Many of the tribesmen saw 
agriculture and other types of labor demeaning, fit only for women. ^ 7 
The diets of both the emigrant and Plains Indians directly affected 
their health. Hunting became a matter of chance as more tribes 
crowded into the area, and few of the Indians had fully made the 
transition to agriculture, so the Indians often suffered from hunger. 
This, coupled with the lack of medical attention, caused a higher 
mortality rate than necessary. 18 

The greatest problems which faced the Indians stemmed from 
the abuse of alcohol. While the Intercourse Act of 183 4 sought to 
keep all alcohol out of the Indian country, the trade continued 
unabated. Few of the Indians could resist the temptation, especially 

58 



since whiskey was sold in so many places along the border. In 1841, 
the Osage subagent wrote that alcohol could be bought from "almost 
every other house" along the Missouri border. 19 

The disbursal system for the annuities also contributed to 
the alcohol problem among the Indians. Traders willingly extended 
generous lines of credit to the Indians during the year and sold them 
goods at prices which justified the risk of not being paid. When the 
annuities were paid, the traders made claims on much of the money for 
the accumulated debts. Whatever money remained quickly went to the 
whiskey dealers who set up shop near the disbursal area. 2 ^ with 
their resources expended, the Indians were then forced to renew the 
cycle . 

Robert Calloway, the subagent for the Osages in 1842, 
attempted to remedy some of the problems in the system. Instead of 
paying the annuities to the chiefs of the tribe, Calloway through 
great efforts, managed to pay the heads of families, increasing the 
odds that the money would be distributed fairly throughout the tribe. 
He also made sure he was present as the money changed hands to ensure 
that provisions and other needed goods were purchased rather than 
illegal whiskey. 2 -^ In his own words, Calloway was "infamous" for his 
efforts to stop the detrimental trade with the Indians. 22 

Despite Calloway's efforts, the Osages continued to get the 
whiskey they desired. The tribe had received two hundred cows and 

59 



calves and four hundred hogs as part of the government's program to 
encourage farming, but the Indians traded the stock for provisions 
and liquor prior to their annual hunt on the prairie. Those who 
stayed home from the hunt traded everything they could for whiskey, 
and were then forced to steal or beg in order to eat. Calloway 
complained that Fort Scott dragoons, who could have been patrolling 
the border and intercepting at least some of the alcohol, had been 
sent instead on a Plains expedition. He also stated the border 
needed many more dragoons to effectively curb the liquor traffic 
because of the numbers and skill of the traders who engaged in the 
trade .23 

Intoxication resulted in violence. One agent reported in 
his region, "more than half the adults who die, perish by the hands 
of their fellow-Indians. Frequently members of the same family 
destroyed each other during their scenes of drunkenness and riot. "24 

The soldiers of Fort Scott helped to keep the area peaceful 
by returning both Indians and whites to their respective sides of the 
Indian frontier line. In October 1842 and again in 1844, dragoon 
detachments rode into Missouri to force Indians to return to their 
Kansas homes. In September 1844, five soldiers from the fort evicted 
John Mathews from a house he had built on the Osage reservation. 
Troops also accompanied some missionaries on their journeys, but as 
guides rather than as guards. 25 



60 



Detachments from Fort Scott's garrison participated in 
major expeditions on the prairies several times. During the summer 
of 1843, Fort Scott dragoons escorted Santa Fe traders west. At one 
point the soldiers encountered a band of about one hundred Indians 
from Texas and disarmed them, preventing the Indians from further 
raiding. The following summer a similar dragoon expedition marched 
and explored as far as Wyoming. ^6 The exploits of the dragoons, in 
addition to the immediate results accomplished, helped in preventing 
Indian wars by impressing the tribes with the power and proximity of 
the United States Army. 

Like other frontier posts, Fort Scott lent its troops to 
the task of peacekeeping. No major Indian battles took place in the 
vicinity of Fort Scott while the Army occupied the post, but it is 
difficult to say whether this was due to the deterrent effect of Fort 
Scott itself, to the temperature of the Indians, or to the 
debilitating effects of widespread alcohol abuse. Far removed from 
the main emigrant routes and battlefields, Fort Scott nevertheless 
contributed to the defense of the permanent Indian frontier. 



61 



Chapter Four Endnotes 

1. T. F. Robley, The History of Bourbon County, Kansas to the Close 
of 1865 (Ft. Scott, Kansas: Monitor, 1894, rep. ed. Sekan 1975), 9. 

2. Henry Putney Beers, The Western Military frontier, 1815-1846 
(Philadelphia: privately printed, 193 5), 141-142. 

3. Report from the Secretary of War , Jan. 22, 1841, 26th Cong., 2nd 
sess., S. Doc. 104, serial 377, 2-3. 

4. Report from Gen. Scott in Report of the Secretary of War , 
Feb. 22, 1844, 28th Cong., 1st sess., S. Doc. 136, serial 433, 3. 

5. Military Post , Dec. 22, 1843, 28th Cong., 1st sess., H. Doc. 30, 
serial 441, 1. 

6. Report of the Quartermaster General in Annual Report of the 
Secretary of War , Nov. 30, 1844, 28th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Doc. 
1, serial 449, 144-145. 

7. Bert Anson, "Variations of the Indian Conflict: The Effects of 
the Emigrant Indian Removal Policy, 1830-1854," Missouri Historical 
Review 59 (October 1964), 83. 

8. Odie B. Faulk, Kenny A. Franks, and Paul F. Lambert, Early 
Military Forts and Posts in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma 
Historical Society, 1978), 3; and Beers, Military Frontier , 57. 

9. Anson, "Variations of the Indian Conflict," 75. 

10. Ibid., 72. 

11. Beers, Military Frontier , 98. 

12. Letter from John Hamilton to 0. Duffenback, April 25, 1872, 
Kansas State Historical Society, Manuscript Division, Topeka. 
Hamilton was a dragoon sergeant who helped build Fort Scott. This 
letter contains his reminiscences about the fort. 

13. Report of Joel Crittendon in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , Nov. 24, 1845, 29th Cong., 1st sess., S. Doc. 1, 
serial 470, 544-545. 



62 



14. Report of James S. Raines in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , S. Doc. 1, serial 740, 527. 

15. Report of A. J. Vaughan in Annual Report of the Commissioner of 
Indian Affairs , Nov. 30, 1846, 29th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Doc. 1, 
serial 493, 307. 

16. "Two Minute Books of Kansas Missions in the Forties," Kansas 
Historical Quarterly 2 (August 1933), 236-237, 246. 

17. Report of James S. Raines in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , S. Doc. 1, serial 470, 527. 

18. Report of Thomas H. Harvey in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , S. Doc. 1, serial 493, 282. 

19. Report of Robert Calloway in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , Dec. 7, 1841, 27th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Doc. 1, 
serial 395, 343. 

20. Report of D. D. Mitchell in Annual Report of the Commissioner of 
Indian Affairs , Nov. 16, 1842, 27th Cong., 3rd sess., S. Doc. 1, 
serial 412, 432. 

21. Report of Robert Calloway in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , S. Ddc . 1, serial 413, 462. 

22. Report of Robert Calloway in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , Nov. 30, 1843, 28th Cong., 1st sess., S. Doc. 1, 
serial 431, 389. 



23. Ibid., 390. 

24. .'* Report of A 
Indian Affairs, S. Doc. 1, serial 395, 358. 



24.. Report of Allen Hamilton in Annual Report of the Commissioner of 



2 5. Leo Oliva, Fort Scott on the Indian Frontier (Topeka: Kansas 
State Historical Society , 1984) , 31. 

26. Ibid., 4-5. 



63 



CHAPTER FIVE 



THE END OF THE EXPERIMENT 



64 



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Chapter Five 

The End of the Experiment 

Following the close of the Mexican War in 1848, the policy 
of keeping the region of present-day Kansas and Nebraska as a 
permanent home for the eastern Indians quietly faded away. It did 
not happen quickly. It built upon ideas that had existed since at 
least the early 1840s, at the time when the permanent Indian frontier 
drew farther west of the line that the forts were built to preserve. 
By 1854, the permanent boundary line had officially disappeared. 

The reasons behind the demise of the permanent Indian 
frontier can be placed into three broad categories: 

1. American expansion into the far west in the 1840s and 
the trails and projected railroad routes needed to get there. This 
brought Manifest Destiny into play with American sovereignty over 
Oregon, Texas, California, and the Southwest. 

2. Expansion of white settlement onto the plans west of 
Arkansas, Missouri and Iowa, closely linked to the question of 
slavery in any new states or territories formed. 

3. Concern for the condition of the Indians themselves. 
It is convenient that concern for the Indians translated into more 
land for white farmers, but the widespread destitution of the tribes 
did make some sort of action on their behalf necessary. 1 

The trails heading west caused the first conflicts with the 
concept of the permanent Indian frontier. The earliest of these, the 
Santa Fe Trail, was in use since 1821. A survey of this route was in 

66 



use since 1821. A survey of this route was conducted and the right 
of transit obtained from the Indians following an Act of Congress in 
1825.2 ij<h e first traders on this route wielded influence with people 
such as Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. With his aid, they 
helped to establish Fort Leavenworth at its present site on the 
Missouri River. Fort Leavenworth had the best location to begin the 
patrols for the protection of trade caravans during the initial stage 
of their journeys from Independence, Missouri. ^ within a few years 
of using the Santa Fe Trail, the traders gained needed experience in 
dealing with the Plains Indians safely, but because of the 
difficulties that developed between Texas and Mexico, dragoons began 
escorting the pack trains across the prairie. 

The Oregon Trail developed somewhat later than the trade 
route to Santa Fe , but the ultimate impact it had on Indian policy 
was greater. The people who migrated to Oregon did so to settle the 
region, not trade like the majority of those who used the Santa Fe 
Trail. The first American pioneers went to the Pacific Northwest in 
1834. Their numbers gradually increased but in 1843, the year of the 
"Great Migration," there were still only about 800 people who made 
the journey to the Oregon country. 

The Oregon question serves as an excellent representation 
of the entire "Manifest Destiny" phenomenon in United States history. 
The area known as Oregon included the present states of Oregon, 
Idaho, Washington, and parts of Montana and Wyoming, as well as the 

67 



province of British Columbia. The United States had shared a claim 
to the region with Great Britain, but by 1844, the concept of 
Manifest Destiny prompted many people to demand that the United 
States take sole possession of the area. In order to make a good 
case for United States 1 sovereignty, the region needed to be settled 
by American citizens. With that in mind, expansionists encouraged 
the movement of settlers to Oregon. 

Unpredictable Indians along the route remained the primary 
fear of those who contemplated moving to Oregon in the 1840s. 
Secretary of War John C. Spencer acknowledged this in his annual 
report for 1842. The United States needed an "exhibition of military 
power" in the area and on the route not only to keep the Indians 
subdued, but also, he said, to counteract "the unresisted influences 
of the traders and emissaries of foreign nations" among the Indians. 

In 1842, however, posts like Fort Scott were still being 
built to mark and enforce the permanent Indian frontier well outside 
the area influenced by migration to Oregon, and Congress was not 
forthcoming with additional funds to establish a line of forts on the 
western trails. Yet in late 1845, requests to Congress still urged 
the building of posts "to maintain our rights to Oregon." These 
forts would not only protect those already emigrating, but encourage 
many others to do so by protecting the travelers and focusing 
attention on the region. 6 



68 



The Army soon established posts such as Fort Kearny and 
Fort Laramie on the western trails, but the Mexican War interrupted 
the building program. Another measure was the formation of the 
Regiment of Mounted Riflemen authorized in May 184 6 expressly for 
duty on the Oregon Trail. Instead of heading for the Northwest, 
however, the soldiers went south to fight Mexico. Only in 1849, 
after the men's enlistments had run out and they were again 
recruited, did the regiment set out from Fort Leavenworth for their 
assignment along the Platte River. ? 

The Army expanded as a result of the war with Mexico, as 
had the nation itself with the settlement of the Oregon dispute, the 
annexation of Texas, and the acquisition of the vast Mexican cession 
in the Southwest. Despite the increase in size of the Army, there 
were too few soldiers to guard the new territories and continue the 
occupation of the forts along the permanent Indian frontier. As a 
result, the army reduced the garrisons at Fort Scott and similar 
posts, and sent the troops west. The emigrant Indians in Kansas, 
despite their drunken sprees and other problems, were not prone to 
open warfare as the tribes of the high plains and far west were in 
the 1850s. When it came to a choice of soldiers for one line of 
posts or the other, the forts on the permanent Indian frontier 
generally lost their garrisons. 

Settlers and traders moving through Indian country 
definitely affected the change in policy in the 1850s, but the 

69 



overflow of white farmers from the States just to the east of the 
Indian lands had as great an effect. 

The history of Indian-white relations generally followed 
the same course. It started with the establishment of Indian lands 
guaranteed by treaty. These were usually maintained for several 
years before "squatters" would move on to a parcel of land and begin 
making improvements and planting crops. Officially, once these 
farmers were discovered living in Indian country, they were asked, 
and if necessary, forced to leave. The army lacked sufficient troops 
to patrol all Indian lands adequately, so many of the illegal 
settlers remained undiscovered. Even if the Army did find and remove 
them, the squatters often returned as soon as the soldiers left the 
vicinity. Once enough of these people occupied a given area, they 
could petition the government to change the boundaries of the Indian 
holdings and allow them to keep the farms that they had created 
illegally . 

In 1841, because of the migration of whites, Isaac McCoy 
expressed his concern for the integrity of the permanent Indian 
frontier : 

[I had] recently been deeply impressed with the 
consideration of the fact that the overwhelming 

[illegible] of imigration to the west for years past, 
has reached the western line of the States of Arkansas 
and Missouri. It is now turning on itself and 
thickening, and in the north of Missouri the wooded 
country . . . will be comparatively filled. If this 
should happen before the Indians within the Indian 
territory be secured in their possessions, a disasterous 
rush will be made upon them [sic].** 

70 



The illegal appropriation of Indian lands by frontiersmen 
contributed to the removal policy in the first place, and by 1850, it 
appeared such actions would cause a further change in the course of 
United States-Indian relations. ^ 

Following the Mexican War and the addition of the vast 
western territories, sectionalism gained force as an issue. The 
problem of squatters in the Indian country became more urgent to both 
sides of the slavery question. In his 1841 journal, Isaac McCoy 
commented on slavery's influence on the Indian frontier, but it 
remained a relatively minor issue until after the Mexican War and the 
Indians were surrounded by organized States and Territories.-^ 

The permanent Indian frontier, it can be argued, ended in 
practice when the Army stopped removing squatters from Indian lands 
in the early 1850s, but the official end of the policy came with the 
passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. H The Army abandoned 
Fort Scott and sold the buildings in 1853, a time by which it 
appeared inevitable that Kansas would be opened to white settlement. 

Although title to the Indian lands had not been 
extinguished, the 1854 Act provided territorial governments for 
Kansas and Nebraska. The opening of the new Territories hinged on 
two primary issues: slavery and transcontinental railroad routes. 



71 



The Kansas-Nebraska Act provided for the settlement of the 
slavery question by the people living in the new territories when 
they applied for statehood. Those who had been living in Indian 
territory were allowed to remain and many new settlers joined. 
Politicians from North and South tried to get those with views 
similar to their own to move to the new Territories, especially 
Kansas, in order to preserve the free state-slave state balance in 
the Senate. Many Northerners opposed the move, fearing an extension 
of slavery, but others, such as former Secretary of War and 
Democratic candidate for President in 184 8 Lewis Cass, joined Senator 
Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois in the belief that the future states 
would reject slavery. 12 

With the acquisition of the Pacific coast, the dreams of a 
transcontinental railroad moved closer to reality. From 1850 to 
1854, the amount of railroad tracks in the United States increased 
from 8600 to 21,300 miles and routes for further expansion westward 
were sought. 13 ^ southern route through Texas and New Mexico would 
have left the Indian territory undisturbed, but the Northern and 
Central states opposed it. Southerners blocked a northern route 
because it would have opened more land to free state settlers. The 
central route, which opened Kansas and Nebraska, left the new 
Territories open to settlement from both North and South and gave 
roughly equal access to the railroads to both sections of the 
country . 



72 



The additional territories acquired by the United States in 
the 1 84 Os / the squatters on Indian lands, the railroad routes, and 
the sectional differences tied in with all of the aforementioned, can 
be brought under the heading of land-hunger or greed on the part of 
the government or at least individuals within the government. As in 
the formation of the removal policy and the permanent Indian 
frontier, concern for the survival of the Indians also figured in the 
major changes in policy in the 1850s. By the late 184 0s, the key to 
the preservation of the Indians (as individuals, not as distinct 
cultural groups) was no longer removal, but concentration. The 
problem of civilizing the Indians had lost much of its appeal by the 
end of the Mexican War. In the documents of that time more space was 
devoted to the reasons for and planning to get the tribes out of the 
way so more whites could move west than is spent on the issue of 
saving the Indians. Concentration of the Indians would accomplish 
this by grouping the tribes into two major areas: the present-day 
states of North and South Dakota, and Oklahoma. Between these two 
regions lay the routes west, along with a vast amount of land which 
could be opened to the citizens of the United States. 

Instruction in agriculture and religion, it was argued, 

could be carried out with greater efficiency after concentration. 

Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, Thomas H. Harvey, 

declared : 

The more closely the different tribes are 
brought in proximity to each other, the more efficient 
may be made the superintendence of the government, and 
the more the expenses of such superintendence be 

73 



diminished .... I have observed that those 
neighborhoods that are most thickly settled, (provided 
they be not in villages), advance more rapidly in 
general improvements than scattered settlements A^ 



In addition to making the education of Indians easier and 
more efficient, concentration would also increase their safety from 
attack from hostile tribes or their white neighbors. Smaller tribes, 
decimated or diminished by disease and through alcohol-related 
violence, held an amount of land greater than their relative numbers. 
This land was declared useless to them because game was scarce which 
made the land "a positive disadvantage to them." The annuities paid 
as compensation for earlier land cessions had expired for some of the 
tribes and their transition to the agrarian life was far from 
complete. With the depletion of game many of the Indians faced 
hunger and even starvation. With further land cessions, the 
annuities could be renewed and the instruction in farming continued 
under better conditions. 1 ^ 

Indian land cessions or exchanges had never really ceased, 
even after the Indians reached their "permanent" homes. The 
Missouri- Indian border was stable for awhile, but to the north and 
south of Missouri, whites still pushed the Indians westward. In 
1846, the Winnebagos, accepted a treaty in which they gave up the 
last of their Iowa lands, totaling several million acres. They were 
the last tribe in Iowa. Legal white settlement began on this land 



74 



and not only was Iowa freed "from a fruitful source of annoyance," 
but also the Indians were removed "from the bad influences incident 
to their proximity to a white population. "1 ^ 

By this time, the American Indian Mission Association 
feared for the integrity of the Indian country. An effort to revise 
the removal policy gained more attention and officials spoke less of 
the permanent Indian frontier than they had in the 183 0s. Those who 
condsidered themselves friends of the Indians felt "distrust and 
alarm" at the prospects of abrogating the treaties which guaranteed 
the Indians their permanent homes. * ^ 

The tide had turned against the Indian frontier concept. 
Between 1846 and 1854, the public debate on the subject centered not 
on the question of whether or not the policy would be changed, but 
rather how it would be changed. Plans for organizing Nebraska and 
Kansas as territories were formed before the Mexican War, but it was 
not until the 1854 Act that the sectional differences could be 
reconciled. As the day of white settlement of the region approached, 
negotiations with the Indians for yet more removals continued. 

The government concluded more than fifty treaties with the 
Plains Indians between 1851 and 1856. *8 T h e boundaries for the 
respective tribes changed in an effort to accommodate most of them 
into a much smaller area. The central Plains of Kansas and Nebraska 
were largely cleared of Indians, and the bulk of the tribes moved 

75 



either north to the future States of the Dakotas or south to 
present-day Oklahoma. The idea of permanency for the Indian country 
was no longer accepted. The tribes that remained in Kansas after it 
became an organized Territory held only a remnant of their former 
lands. The experiment of keeping the Indians outside of the 
organized States and territories until they could lead civilized 
lives had failed. Even in the first few years of Fort Scott's 
existence, policy changes were being discussed which would change not 
only the frontier line, but the entire concept of the frontier. 



76 



Chapter Five Endnotes 

1. James C. Malin lists four reasons for the change in policy, 
differentiating between the trails 1 use as lines of communication and 
as means for farmers and miners to reach the west. For more details 
on this see Malin's article, "Indian Policy and Westward Expansion," 
Bulletin of the University of Kansas , Humanistic Studies 2 (November 
1921) , 12-13. 

2. Ibid., 35-36; and T. F. Robley, History of Bourbon County, Kansas 
to the Close of 1865 (Fort Scott, Kansas: Monitor, 1894, rep. ed. 
Sekan , 197 5) , 4. 

3. Henry Putney Beers, The Western Military Frontier, 1815-1846 
(Philadelphia: privately printed, 1935), 95. 

4. Malin, "Indian Policy," 36; and Louis Barry, The Beginning of the 
West, 1540-1854 (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1972), 
476. 

5. Annual Report of the Secretary of War , Nov. 26, 1842, 27th Cong., 
3rd sess., S. Doc. 1, serial 413, 188. 

6. Military Posts on the Route to Oregon , Dec. 31, 1845, 29th Cong., 
1st sess., H. rep. 13, serial 488, 2-3. 

7. Robert M. Utley, Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army 
and the Indian, 1848-1865 (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 65. 

8. Isaac McCoy Journal, July 27, 1841, Kansas State Historical 
Society, Manuscript Division, Topeka (hereafter referred to as KSHS) . 

9. Francis Paul Prucha, American Indian Policy in the Formative 
Years: The Indian Trade and Intercourse Acts, 1790-1834 ( Lincoln: 
University of Nebraska Press, 1962), 147; and Bert Anson, "Variations 
on the Indian Conflict: The Effects of the Emigrant Removal Policy, 
1830-1854," Missouri Historical Review 59 (October 1964), 87. 

10. McCoy Journal, July 3, 1841, KSHS; and Malin, "Indian Policy," 
40. 

11. H. Craig Miner and William E. Unrau, The End of Indian Kansas: 
Study of the Cultural Revolution, 1854-1871 (Lawrence: Regents Press 
of Kansas, 1978), 4; and Malin, "Indian Policy," 58. 

77 



12. Ray Gittinger, "The Separation of Nebraska and Kansas from the 
Indian Territory," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 3 (March 
1917) , 456-457. 

13. Ibid., 447. 



14. Report of Thomas H. Harvey in Annual Report of the Commissioner 
of Indian Affairs , Nov. 30, 184 6, 29th Cong., 2nd sess., S. Doc. 1, 
serial 493, 286. 

15. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs , Nov. 30, 
1849, 31st Cong., 1st sess., S. Ex. Doc. 1, part 3, serial 551, 
945-946. 

16. Annual Report of the Secretary of War , Dec. 5, 1846, 29th Cong., 
2nd sess., S. Doc. 1, serial 493, 60. 

17. American Indian Mission Association , June 22, 1846, 29th Cong., 
1st sess., H. Rep. 751, serial 491, 4. 

18. Anson, "Variations of the Indian Conflict," 72-73. 



78 



CHAPTER SIX 



CONCLUSIONS 



79 



Chapter Six 

Conclusions 

The history of the permanent Indian frontier and its 
relationship to Fort Scott can be divided into two distinct areas of 
examination: theory and practice. Great differences between the two 
became apparent in the years 1830-1854. 

According to the way in which the concept was laid out, the 
Indians would accept removal beyond the Mississippi because it gave 
them a great amount of good land in exchange for the lands that they 
held east of the Mississippi. Quite often the game on which the 
Indians depended had been killed or driven off their lands, and the 
Indians always had to contend with the nearby settlers in their 
original lands. Generally collisions between the white and red men 
were on an individual basis, but occasionally, as in the case of the 
Cherokee Nation and the State of Georgia, the differences extended 
far beyond individuals. 

The United States government failed to take into 
consideration what the Indians themselves desired. Many of the 
tribes moved willingly, abandoning their already reduced homelands in 
favor of western lands and plentiful game. Others, like the 

80 



Cherokees, had already adopted an agricultural way of life and had a 
deep affection for their ancestral homes. They did not wish to be 
uprooted regardless of how favorable an exchange they could get. 
President Andrew Jackson and the majority in Congress arbitrarily 
determined that the Cherokees and virtually all of the eastern 
Indians would, indeed, move and accordingly forced them out. For the 
Cherokees, this resulted in their "Trail of Tears." 

The standard assumption of those who supported removal for 
the good of the Indians was that they should adopt the manners and 
vocations of western civilization. That meant giving up the hunt and 
learning to manage small farms. Behind the protection of the 
permanent Indian frontier, the Indians were to change their ways 
gradually by seeing the advantages of raising crops and livestock 
through demonstration. "Permanent" actually meant indefinite, but on 
a long-term basis. This might conceivably have worked if the 
frontier could have maintained as long as originally planned. 
However, changes came quickly in national perceptions and goals, and 
officials who had been sympathetic to the difficulties facing the 
Indians were replaced by those who had more concern for the greatness 
of the nation and the frontiersmen who continued to press the 
Indians . 

In 1830, when the permanent Indian frontier became the goal 
of the government, and in 1834, when the Intercourse Act spelled out 
rules for the segregation of the Indians, the Indian country was 

81 



colonial territory from the Louisiana Purchase and outside the 
organized United States. Though the area undisputedly belonged to 






the nation, it had no government except the one in Washington, D. C. 
Despite the discussions of a future Indian state, the natives never 
gained territorial status for their lands, and the Indian frontier 
was considered the western frontier of the country. 

The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, cutting through the heart 
of Indian land became sources of difficulties, but the conflicts 
which arose were by no means insurmountable. By the early 1840s, 
expansionists became more vocal and demanded the annexation of the 
Republic of Texas as well as sole control of the Oregon Country. 
These cries gained power as more and more Americans filled Texas and 
the Northwest. By 1848, the United States gained control not only of 
Texas and much of Oregon, but also of most of the Southwest. The 
Indians found themselves surrounded by lands open to white 
settlement, the primary routes to which traversed the middle of the 
Indian land in Kansas and Nebraska. 

With the dramatic increase in national power and prestige 
which resulted from this land acquisition, concern for the Indians 
receded. The nation devoted time, energy, and money to taming the 
new lands. That often meant fighting Indians rather than civilizing 
them. The limited resources of the Army went to Texas and the new 
West instead of the internal border on the edge of the Plains. 



82 



The early history of Fort Scott reflected these changes in 
policy of the 1840s and the 1850s. Built in 1842 expressly to guard 
the Missouri border against the intrusion of the Osages and other 
tribes and to stem the flow of liquor into the Indians' hands, Fort 
Scott existed past its most useful period. The order to abandon Fort 
Scott was carried out in 1853, a year before Kansas became a 
Territory, but even earlier than this there were few who doubted that 
the region would be opened to white settlement. The troops who 
occupied Fort Scott moved west to pacify other tribes and to patrol 
the migration routes. 

As the Indians migrated out of Kansas and Nebraska, their 
former "permanent" homes, white settlers moved in. Relocation in the 
Dakotas or Oklahoma was no longer considered permanent for the 
tribes. It was only a matter of time before the individual allotment 
of land to each Indian would result in smaller reservations, and the 
land taken away opened for whites. 

The experiment in Indian relations failed, not because the 
government did not care about the Indians, but because of a rapidly 
growing population and frontiersmen who occupied whatever land they 
wanted, disregarding rightful ownership. Given the reluctance of 
Congress to authorize sufficient military budgets in the period 1830 
to 184 5, complete enforcement of the permanent Indian frontier became 
impossible. Too much land had to be patrolled by an inadequate 
number of troops. 

83 



After the Mexican War, the problem changed. The lack of 
money became secondary to the lack of will to enforce the laws 
dealing with Indian relations. The emphasis shifted to expansion and 
exploitation of the new regions rather than the care and education of 
the Indians. The goals which officials and other concerned citizens 
hoped to reach with the Indians in the 1830s could not stand up to 
the pocketbook issues of the expansionists in the 1840s. 



84 



Appendix 

This is an excerpt from the Annual Report of the Secretary 
of War for 1831. These are the guidelines which Secretary Lewis 
Cassurged the government to follow in dealing with the Indians. It 
should be noted that before being appointed Secretary of War, Cass 
was governor of Michigan Territory. He was considered to be very 
knowledgeable about Indian affairs and a friend of the Indians. 

The general details of a plan for the permanent 
establishment of the Indians west of the Mississippi, and for their 
proper security, would require much deliberation; but there are some 
fundamental principles, obviously arising out of the nature of the 
subject, which, when once adopted, would constitute the best 
foundation for our exertions, and the hopes of the Indians. 

1. A solemn declaration, similar to that already inserted 
in some of the treaties, that the country assigned to the Indians 
shall be theirs as long as they or their descendants may occupy it, 
and a corresponding determination that our settlements shall not 
spread over it; and every effort should be used to satisfy the 
Indians of our superiority and of their security. Without this 
indispensable preliminary, and without full confidence on their part 
in our intentions, and in our abilities to give these effect, their 
change of position would bring no change of circumstances. 

2. A determination to exclude all ardent spirits from 
their new country. This will no doubt be difficult; but a system of 
surveillance upon the borders, and of proper police and penalties, 
will do much towards the exter nalization of an evil, which, where it 
exists in any considerable extent, is equally destructive of their 
present comfort and future happiness. 

3. The employment of an adequate force in their immediate 
vicinity, and a fixed determination to suppress, at all hazards, the 
slightest attempt at hostilities among themselves. 



85 



So long as a passion for war, fostered and encouraged, as 
it is, by their opinions and habits, is allowed free scope for 
exercise, it will prove the master spirit, controlling, if not 
absorbing, all other considerations. And if in checking this evil 
some examples should become necessary, they would be sacrifices to 
humanity, and not to severity. 

4. Encouragement to the severalty of property, and such 
provisions for its security, as their own regulations do not afford, 
and as may be necessary to its enjoyment. 

5. Assistance to all who may require it in the opening of 
farms, and in procuring domestic animals and instruments of 
agriculture . 

6. Leaving them in the enjoyment of their peculiar 
institutions, as far as may be compatible with their own safety and 
ours, and with the great objects of their prosperity and 
improvements . 

7. The eventual employment of persons competent to 
instruct them, as far and as fast as their progress may require, and 
in such manner as may be most useful to them* 



♦ Annual Report of the Secretary of War , Dec. 6, 1831, 
sess . , H. Doc. 2, serial 216, 33-34. 



22nd Cong . , 1st 



86 



A Note on Sources 

The congressional serials, including the Annual Reports of 
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and Secretary of War have proven 
to be the most useful sources on the permanent Indian frontier in 
general. The serials contain many reports from committees, and 
memorials relating to Indian affairs from state legislatures and 
missionary groups. The Annual Reports , consistently divided into 
subsections, relate the changes which occurred from year to year. 
The main drawback to these sources is that there is little material 
dealing explicitly with Fort Scott. 

The Kansas State Historical Society has been a much better 
source of Fort Scott information. In addition to the collections of 
men such as Isaac McCoy and Robert Simerwell, the Society holds Fort 
Scott and Bourbon County histories. 

Francis Paul Prucha is the best secondary source of 
information. He was written extensively on Indian policy and his 
work, American Indian Policy in the Formative Years is the best book 
I have found on Indian affairs from American independence through the 
Intercourse Act of 1834. Prucha's A Bibliographical Guide to the 
History of Indian-White Relations in the United States has also been 
very helpful in finding additional sources. 



87 



The main problem in researching Fort Scott during this 
period is the lack of primary material focusing on the post. 
Government sources touch upon the post briefly, but generally deal 
with the larger issues. Local histories, generally written from 
personal reminiscences, are often unreliable and are not, as a rule, 
well-documented. Though there are sources dealing with how the fort 
was built and how much it cost, there is little on the actions of the 
soldiers in the 1840s. 



88 



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"Two Minute Books of Kansas Missions in the Forties." Kansas 
Historical Quarterly 2 (Aug. 1933): 227-256. 



oU.S GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE! 9 86 .655 -5 82/ 40051 



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